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What Makes Sammy Run?

3.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Causing a sensation when it was first published in 1941, What Makes Sammy Run? was such a controversial novel that no Hollywood studio dared bring it to the screen. In 1959, NBC presented the definitive adaptation of Budd Schulberg's scathing tale on the anthology series Sunday Showcase. Audiences were enthralled with the amoral hustler Sammy Glick (Larry Blyden) and his meteoric rise from copy boy to the heights of the studio system. Long considered one of television's "lost" treasures, the complete two-part broadcast (directed by Academy Award®-winner Delbert Mann and also starring John Forsythe, Barbara Rush and Dina Merrill) has been restored and re-mastered and is now available for the first time ever.

EXCLUSIVE BONUS FEATURES:
-Audio commentary with Dina Merrill and Barbara Rush
-Interview with Budd Schulberg

ALSO INCLUDES: 16-page booklet with written contributions by the Archive of American Television and Jane Klain, Manager of Research Services at the Paley Center for Media


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Larry Blyden, John Forsythe, Dina Merrill, Norman Fell, Barbara Rush
  • Directors: Delbert Mann
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Koch Vision
  • DVD Release Date: February 10, 2009
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001JQHT6C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,174 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "What Makes Sammy Run?" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

I am thrilled that this wonderful television adaptation of Budd Schulberg's classic novel "What Makes Sammy Run?" is being released on DVD. The television play was originally shown in two one-hour installments on September 27 and October 4, 1959. Although the color videotapes used for the broadcast no longer exist, for many years a black-and-white kinescope of the first hour was available for viewing at the Museum of Television & Radio (now the Paley Center for Media) in New York City and Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the second hour was on the Museum's list of "lost treasures."

In 2004, I was in the process of revising the book of the 1964 musical version of the same story (which ultimately led to a successful NYC revival in 2006) and arranged an interview with actress Dina Merrill to discuss her performance as the man-eating socialite, Laurette Harrington. Since most of Ms Merrill's performance occurred in the "lost" second hour, I wanted to learn more about the unavailable portion of the television play. Ms Merrill was surprised to learn that the second hour was not available for screening at the Museum. I didn't realize it at the time, but Ms Merrill was on the board of the Museum, and shortly after our conversation, she contacted the curators and asked them to make a concerted effort to locate the lost reel. Astonishingly enough, a complete kinescope of the broadcast was located at the Library of Congress and, following a restoration of the film, the complete television play was screened on April 6, 2005 at the Museum's New York branch with Ms Merrill and Budd Schulberg in attendance. I was on crutches at the time because of an injured foot, but I wasn't about to miss that historic event.
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"What Makes Sammy Run?" is based on a novel by 27-year-old Budd Schulberg ("On the Waterfront," "A Face In the Crowd") written in 1941. The novel focused on the meteoric rise of Sammy Glick, a poor Jewish kid from the Lower East Side, from newspaper copy boy to Hollywood studio head, steamrolling anyone in his path. Sammy Glick was the forerunner of characters played by Michael Douglas in "Wall Street," Kevin Spacey in "Swimming With Sharks," and Tim Robbins in "The Player."
Hollywood never filmed Schulberg's novel, perhaps because it hit too close to home. Instead, it was adapted by Schulberg and directed by Delbert Mann in a two-part television drama in 1959 for "Sunday Showcase." "What Makes Sammy Run?" stars Larry Blyden in the title role, John Forsythe, Barbara Rush, and Dina Merrill. Supporting cast members include Sidney Blackmer, Norman Fell, David Opatashu, and Horace MacMahon.
Blyden was chosen for the role over many contenders, including Anthony Perkins, Ben Gazzara, Charles Grodin, Harry Guardino, Burt Reynolds, and Tony Curtis. Known today primarily as a 1960's game show host, Blyden turns in a razzle-dazzle performance as Glick, an average guy from nowhere with enormous drive who claws his way to the top. Detestable in many ways, he is nonetheless fascinating.
The original taped, two-part broadcast was in color, but the DVD version is in black and white. Mann's direction is crisp, and the performances are lively, spontaneous, and natural. Bonus extras include audio commentary with Dina Merrill and Barbara Rush, an interview with Budd Schulberg, and a 16-page booklet containing a Schulberg biography, a chronicle of attempts made by Hollywood to film the novel, excerpts from reviews of the show, and details about the restoration of this TV classic, thought lost for decades.
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Congratulations to Koch Vision, The Academy of TV Arts and Sciences, The Paley Center and all who are finally bringing these gems of TV's "Golden Age" to quality home video--first with the "Studio One" box, now with "What Makes Sammy Run?" and, hopefully, many, many more. The rich heritage of live (and later taped) TV drama (and comedy) has been sorely neglected in the home video market. FINALLY, something is being done.

I first saw the restored "Sammy" at the Paley Center in NYC. Now I can enjoy it at home with all the "extras" that one comes to expect in a fabulous DVD production.

Please, please, "Archive of American Televison Presents," keep this stuff coming. We all remember how great it was, AND IS.
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The Sunday Showcase adaptation of Bud Schulberg's 'What Makes Sammy Run?' serves, I think, as a superior distillation of the novel. The problem with the book is that-- like many authors' first attempts-- it lacks expository discipline, in this case, as it meanders away from its narrative strength (as a sharp-witted character study of the 'modern' Hollywood-mogul archetype) into rather trite half-flirtations with pro-socialist politics (which goes nowhere) and amateur socio-psychoanalysis, the latter achieved mainly through lengthy flashback passages patched in late in the story, nearly killing the dramatic momentum Schulberg to that point had built with great economy (it's a short read). These leaden elements, which come across on paper as contrived and gratuitous (largely because they're already well implied via subtext), are wisely eliminated from the teleplay. In their place appears an embellished sexual rivalry between Sammy and Al vis-à-vis Kit, which in my opinion works much better in a confined dramatic space. As for the video quality and subject matter: yes, both are dated, but if those kinds of things bother you clearly you should have no interest in watching an artifact like this to begin with. Bottom line: the script needed a rewrite, and this one (done by Schulberg and his brother Stuart, by the way) delivers. 3 1/2 stars.
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